A migraine is not just any other ordinary headache; it is a very debilitating condition that is a combination of headache, nausea, vomiting and causes significant distress to the patient. This painful condition affects as many as 28 million people in USA alone with the incidence being higher amongst females as compared to males.
On account of its nature, migraine can indeed rob a person of his quality of life and whether the patient stays at home or goes to work in spite of the pain, it ultimately results in lost productivity. Migraine is one of the common causes for work absenteeism as well as late arrival to office and leaving early from work. Thus the work productivity may be compromised in spite of presenteeism at the office. The sad thing is that there is considerable disability associated with this condition in chronic cases which often goes unrecognised at the clinic level.
The American Headache Society hosted the 2009 International Headache Congress in Philadelphia wherein research studies highlighted the enormous impact of migraine on global economy. One study estimated that more than $24 billion is lost annually in US alone due to direct medical expenditure on migraine treatment and lost productivity resulting from this ailment.
Research studies have clearly demonstrated that homeopathy treatment for migraine has significant help to offer to patients in terms of reduced frequency of migraine headaches, reduced intensity of the attacks and improvement in quality of life after commencing treatment. Welcome to the pain-free world of homeopathy at Dr. Batra's.
What is Migraine?
Migraine is basically a form of a vascular headache that is chronic and recurrent in nature. Patients suffering from migraine usually describe it as an intense, throbbing or pounding headache which generally affects only one side of the head. Occasionally, the pain may affect both sides or may alter sides.
Migraines can occur at any age but usually commence between ten to forty years of age. The episodes tend to taper down with advancing age. Almost 15% of the population globally is affected by migraine. Women are affected thrice as more commonly as compared to men. A large number of people with migraine (almost 80%) have at least one family member who suffers from or has had migraine in the past.
The frequency of migraine headache varies largely from patient to patient - some migraineurs may experience the headache episodes several times a month whereas others may get only a few sporadic episodes in the entire year. The pain generally lasts for a few hours but at times even up to 3 days.
Migraine afflicts more than 28 million Americans according to The National Headache Foundation and is one of the common causes for absenteeism from work or loss of productivity in spite of presenteeism during sickness. Billions of dollars are spent every year on treatment for migraine as well as for research on the same.
There are two basic types of migraine headaches:
Common migraine: This accounts for almost 80% of all migraine headaches. In common migraine, there is no aura before the headache commences. Common migraine tends to be less severe as compared to classic migraine.
Classic migraine: Patients with classic migraine experience an 'aura' before their headache begins. An aura is a neurological phenomenon that precedes the migraine attack and consists of a visual disturbance in most cases.
Causes of Migraine
Migraine is a vascular headache that is caused due to vasodilatation (engorgement of blood vessels) and abnormalities in the levels of certain chemicals in the brain. Chiefly, when the amounts of the chemicals dopamine and serotonin alter abnormally, the result is constriction and dilatation of the blood vessels leading to a painful sensation. The exact cause as to why this occurs is still in the research phase.
Migraines also tend to be hereditary in nature. Almost 80% of migraineurs have a positive family history of migraine. A person who has one parent suffering from migraine has a 50% chance of developing the same whereas someone whose both parents suffer from migraine has almost 75% chance of getting migraine.
A combination of the above two factors decide the course of migraine in most patients. Apart from this, there are many factors that can trigger the onset of an episode of migraine in a susceptible person. Some of the common triggers or causes of migraine have been discussed here:
- Stress: Stress is one of the most common triggers of migraine. Physical stress, mental stress, emotions like anxiety, grief, worry, excitement, etc. can all trigger a headache in an individual who is prone to develop migraine. These can also intensify the severity of the pain in someone who is having an acute episode of headache.
- Certain foods and beverages: Cheese, alcoholic drinks, monosodium glutamate (common ingredient of Chinese foods), foods containing gluten, caffeine withdrawal, chocolates, red wine, etc. are some of the common triggers of migraine.
- Skipping meals, lack of sleep or changes in the sleeping pattern are some other common triggers especially attributed to modern day lifestyle.
- Strong odors, perfumes, incense sticks, etc. can trigger an episode or worsen an existing attack of migraine headache
- Menstrual periods are one of the very common triggers of a migraine attack in women. A large number of women experience worsening of their headaches either before, during or after their menstrual periods.
- Change in weather
- Excessive fatigue
- Bright lights can trigger a severe headache in many patients
It may not be possible at first to detect the migraine triggers in every case. However, if patients are informed about the variety of things that can be a potential cause of their pain, they may be able to track and record what triggers the migraine in their case.
Symptoms of Migraine
A large number of people think that signs of migraine is simply a headache that is usually one-sided. However, migraine is something much more than a simple headache and it causes a lot of suffering to the migraineur. This section deals with some of the common symptoms of migraine.
As discussed earlier, migraine symptoms can be of two types - Common and Classic migraine. The major difference between the two is that there is no preceding 'aura' in common migraine. In addition, common migraines tend to be less severe as compared to classic ones. A typical episode of migraine can be divided into the following phases:
- Prodrome: This phase, which is seen in almost one third of migraineurs, primarily consists of mood swings (irritability, anger, depression, etc.) and craving for certain foods. The patient may also experience general fatigue, muscle stiffness in neck and back, lack of concentration, etc. The prodrome phase is more like a warning before the migraine attack commences. A large number of people can predict the onset of their migraine from the prodromal symptoms.
- Aura: Almost one fifth of migraineurs experience an aura before their headache commences. An aura is most commonly a visual disturbance that precedes the phase of headache. Blurred vision, floaters, light flashes, partial loss of vision in one eye, blind spots, geometric patterns in front of eyes are some common presentations of an aura. The aura lasts for anywhere between 15 minutes to one hour.
Occasionally, an aura may also be a 'non-visual' symptom such as a funny taste in mouth, ringing in ears, difficulty in speech, loss of balance, tingling numbness of hands or feet, confusion, etc.
- Headache: The headache is typically one-sided though it may affect the entire head in up to 40% of the cases. The pain may even shift sides in some cases. The nature of pain is described as throbbing, pounding headache by most patients though it may start off as a dull pain initially. The pain worsens with movement. The pain is accompanied by nausea in many cases and this may end in vomiting. Many patients experience excessive sensitivity to light and sound during the acute phase of the headache. The pain may last between 4 to 72 hours. Loss of appetite, fatigue, dizziness, etc. are some other symptoms commonly seen.
- Postdrome: Once the headache has terminated, some symptoms may linger on for some time especially fatigue, inability to concentrate, etc.
Diagnosis of Migraine
Migraine is largely diagnosed based on the history given by the patient. Most cases do not require any investigations for diagnosing the same. However, the physician will examine the patient and look out for signs of mental confusion, muscle weakness, speech problems, balancing problems, etc. to rule out other causes of headache ( stroke, tumor, meningitis, sinusitis to name a few).
The treating physician may also suggest certain investigations to rule out other causes of headache such as:
- Computerized tomography scan (CT scan)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Electroencephalography (EEG)
- Spinal tap
- Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA)
However, as mentioned earlier, these tests do not confirm the diagnosis of migraine but only rule out other causes of headache.
In a double-blind placebo controlled trial conducted at Norway, 68 patients with Migraine were prescribed individualised Homeopathy treatment or placebo over a period of four months. At the end of the study, it was found that the group which was prescribed homeopathy experienced significant reduction in frequency of attacks and intensity of pain as compared to the group that was given placebo. In addition, the former group also experienced overall well being with the treatment.
This is just one of the many instances where homeopathy has proved its efficacy in the treatment of migraine. A number of homeopathic practitioners and patients are proof that homeopathy helps relieve migraine effectively, gently and safely.
The homeopathy treatment of migraine entails a detailed study of the individual's constitution whereby a remedy that covers all aspects is prescribed. With continued treatment, patients notice a gradual reduction in the frequency of migraine attacks as well as the intensity of pain. During the course of treatment, there may be some phases when the pain increases due to some reason - patients can safely opt for painkiller medication at such times to overcome the acute pain. The aim of homeopathic treatment is also to reduce the need for and dependence on conventional painkillers for migraine.
The treatment period varies from patient to patient and depends on multiple factors such as the duration of the ailments (chronic cases take longer time), active avoidance of the triggers and compliance with the treatment. Overall, the response to the treatment of migraine is good in most cases. At Dr. Batra's, we have treated a large number of migraine patients with good response in most cases. We strongly recommend homeopathy treatment to all migraineurs for leading a pain-free life!
Self-help tips for Migraine
At Dr. Batra's, we have treated a large number of patients with Migraine, and based on our experience, we have seen that certain clinical tips go a long way in helping migraine sufferers to deal with their condition. These tips have a scientific backing and have been repeatedly clinically verified by us.
- The first and probably one of the most important things is to get a proper sleep for eight hours everyday. Studies have shown that people who get adequate and sound sleep are better equipped to prevent migraine attacks as well as deal with the acute episodes.
- The significance of regular meals and a balanced diet cannot be over-emphasized. This is especially true since skipping meals or irregular snacking has been shown to trigger an acute attack of migraine.
- Exercise regularly in moderation.
- Quit smoking - it's one of those things which cause a lot of other health problems too apart from migraine.
- Stress management techniques can go a long way in helping migraineurs to deal with their problem.
- Yoga and meditation can help to relax the mind - these are especially good for cases where stress is a major trigger for the migraine attack.
- A large number of foods are known to trigger migraine attacks and patients should carefully note if there is such a co-relation between the foods they consume and the headaches. These food items should be avoided as far as possible. Homeopathy treatment can help to improve the resistance to such food allergens so that they do not cause such problems every time at a later stage.
- Some of the common food triggers of migraine include aged cheese, alcohol, chocolate, yeast, aged meats, monosodium glutamate (common ingredient of Chinese foods), red wine , soy beans, coffee, etc. and these are better avoided or taken with caution.
- Some well known headache fighting foods that you can include in your diet are: ginger, garlic, cayenne pepper, fish and fish oil, calcium-rich foods like broccoli and spinach, oatmeal, peppermint, lemon tea, chamomile tea, etc.